Its been nearly three years since I posted the blog, Nothing will change until you do. As I was reflecting on the words parenting, addiction and change, I was thinking about how far I had come in my recovery from my son’s addiction and how the transformations experienced in the process have become a gift to both me and my son. If I had not done the hard work on myself, I am not certain my son and I would be experiencing a healing in our relationship despite the cycle of addiction and recovery in his.
There was a point in this journey where the only acceptable outcome for me as related to my son was for him to find, embrace, and celebrate his extended recovery. The only way I could be at peace with my role as his dad and as a man in this world, was if somehow, I was able to help guide my son to recovery from his addiction. That is a huge burden to place on me and my son. Think about this for a minute…
Until my child finds and embraces long-term recovery, I cannot find peace in my life.
Imagine the responsibility I assigned to my son. I made him through his journey, choices and behaviors responsible for my joy. I also frees myself from any obligation to grow or change independent of his addiction. I put it all on him. All he needed to do was to comply with my expectations and everything will be okay for all of us. What an unfair, tremendous burden to place on my child. Doesn’t he have enough to cope with on his own already?
- What if he never finds his recovery?
- What if his current cycle of addiction, recovery, and relapse is as good as it gets?
- What if nothing ever changed or improved from what it is today?
- What if we never have a “normal” relationship?
- What if we never get back what we have lost?
- What if we cannot find that road to healing and recovery?
- Does this mean my life remains in this fixed, stuck position waiting for recovery to happen?
- Is it possible for me to find peace and joy in my life despite the chaos which exists within it?
I am hoping your answer to the last question is “yes.” Because it is possible for addiction to be a constant in our lives, experiencing our own, independent recovery is critical for health and healing in our lives. This involves learning to redefine our roles and behaviors as parents of a child who is struggling with an addiction. Truth is, it may never get better. It may even get worse. There are no guarantees that changing your attitude, behaviors, and actions may not bring recovery to your child; but, it most likely will bring progressive healing to a heart broken by a loved one addiction.
In my coaching interactions with parents, the common denominators among those who have found a healing peace despite the chaos in their lives, is in their commitment to incremental personal change. Most of these behaviors include some combination of:
- Embracing the learning process around the issue of substance abuse and addiction
- Shifting the context of the issue as it relates to their child and not how it affects them
- Discovering how to meet their children where they are without judgment, shame, or criticism
- Adjusting their conversation and their vocabulary, removing terminology which reflect demands, expectations, or disappointment
- Detaching themselves from the outcome as they see it and being prepared to support their child the way their child desires it
- Recognizing and accepting they cannot control the actions or behaviors of another
- Turning their child’s journey over to God, knowing he has a plan for their life
- Trusting in God’s plan for their child’s life and for their life.
- Celebrating with gratitude what they have, not what they don’t have
- Engaging an active program of self-care and social engagement.
For those who are looking to break free from the grip of addiction, I can promise you – your life will change, your relationship with your child will be different, and you can find peace in the chaos – once you embrace your own recovery journey, independent of their recovery journey. I have shifted into a space, over time though not perfectly, where all these components are a key part of my interactions and behaviors. I know it works because I have experienced amazing personal healing; and, I have witnessed a tremendous, profound shift toward a healthy relationship with my son even though his journey is still somewhat tumultuous.
If you would like to talk through some of these actions, I am here to help. Please let me know what you need.
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I would love to hear from you.
What issues are confronting you today? Where are you currently experiencing fear and shame relating to the struggles in your life? I have some pretty cool tools to guide you and would love to help. Please let me know: dave@100Pedals.com.